American Popular Song Composers: Oral Histories, 1920s–1950s by Michael Whorf

By Michael Whorf

During this quantity, 39 of the mythical composers from Tin Pan Alley, Hollywood and Broadway of the Nineteen Twenties during the Nineteen Fifties speak about their careers and proportion the tales of constructing a number of the such a lot cherished songs in American track. Interviewed for radio within the mid-1970s, they contain such giants as Harold Arlen, Eubie Blake, Cy Coleman, George Duning, Sammy Fain, Jerry Herman, Bronislaw Kaper, Henry Mancini, David Rose, Arthur Schwartz, Charles Strouse, Jule Styne, Jimmie Van Heusen, Harry Warren, Richard Whiting, and Meredith Willson. photos and infrequent sheet track reproductions accompany the interviews.

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Well, then he began to haunt my dressing room, and I just threw my hands up and told him I’d set something up. “One afternoon, he got his chance and he auditioned six or eight songs. They were all well written and Nora chose three and paid him for them. I was somewhat perplexed because she normally took some time to arrive at that decision. ’ “When I was working for Miss Bayes, I met Jack Robbins who was just beginning in the publishing field. He didn’t have much of a catalogue. He was somewhat short on material, only having a couple of piano solos and some things from the Vanities, but he was long on ambition.

Well, I don’t know about that, but I could play. I could get all the chords, not just in one position but all up and down the fret board. Something else I learned to do early was to play the top line and the accompanying chord as well. This amazed Hy, and he was able to get me work. I played at the Savoy and did so for seven years until the leader went back to Europe. Then I went to work with Brooke Allen and formed a trio. I switched over to the guitar and I had to be pretty sharp because it was just a piano, a singer and me.

We were just lucky. ’ Frank sent it to his arranger and told him to write it down just as Ed, Sol and I wrote it. With his recording and the one done by Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes, we had a Hit Parade winner for eight weeks. ’ It was a bad time for America in 1942. In those first months the country was trying to get it together. It was a very bleak time and the lights had gone out. Darkness swept over the United States. That’s where the idea came from. “‘When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World’ was a universal phrase, because this was what we all prayed for ...

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